This past weekend, an overpass on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia collapsed after an apparent fire involving a tanker truck below the roadway.
The incident could cut off a section of one of the busiest interstates in the country for months. About 160,000 vehicles travel through the roadway every day, according to state officials. The rerouting of that traffic will have an economic impact.
A lot of commutes just got a lot longer, and it’ll cost those drivers, according to Joseph Kane at the Brookings Institution.
“Time is money, and that’s going to lead to huge time lost,” Kane said. That’s not to mention all the diverted truck traffic, he said.
“This is a huge disruption and, you know, in no way could have been predicted,” he said.
Unpredictable, but not unprecedented. In 2017, a fire caused a critical portion of I-85 in Atlanta to collapse. But workers rebuilt that elevated roadway in just six weeks.
“There just has to be an emphasis on speed,” said Robert Puentes, president of the Eno Center for Transportation.
That includes the bidding process, he said. Tom Smith, executive director of the American Society of Civil Engineers, said an emergency can really concentrate minds.
“One of the things we’d like to do is try to figure out how to have that same focus with all of our infrastructure,” Smith said.
Smith’s organization puts out a “report card” every few years for the nation’s infrastructure. Its latest grades gave the nation’s bridges a “C”.
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